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GM Adding Shift for Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon Production

With the new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups set to go on sale within the next few weeks, General Motors is adding a third shift to the Wentzville, MO assembly plant that makes these trucks in addition to the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.

GM says dealers have already placed over 30,000 orders for the new Colorado and Canyon trucks, indicating strong initial demand. The third shift will begin in early 2015, though, so it will not affect production of the Colorado and Canyon right away.

Still, GM is clearly betting big on these new models, as it has made a $513 million investment in total to create new jobs at the Wentzville facility to produce these vehicles. GM already added a new stamping press and 1315 new jobs to the Wentzville plant to mark the launch of these trucks, and this additional shift will add 750 additional jobs to the facility.

"GM is on to something," says Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst with IHS Automotive. She credits the new Chevrolet and GMC midsize trucks for offering nicer interiors than the segment has seen before and, crucially, for maintaining a real price difference with full-size trucks. That said, the new trucks' early success hardly means Americans will embrace smaller trucks en masse. IHS forecasts the mid-size truck segment will grow to about 300,000 by 2017, still a drop in the bucket compared to big truck sales.

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado starts at $20,995 with destination and comes in extended-cab and crew-cab models with either a short or a long bed. The GMC Canyon offers the same configurations and starts at a slightly higher $21,880 due to more standard equipment. 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V-6 engines are available for both trucks, and send power to either the rear or all four wheels.